The Arab Banking Conference for 2019 Economic Reforms & Governance
In accordance with UAB 46 Ordinary General Assembly Meeting
23 - 25 of April, 2019 Beirut – Lebanon
Most Arab countries suffer from economic distortions due to several years of improper planning at various economic and financial levels. This absence of proper planning results from the lack of economic diversification, whereby most Arab economies rely on one economic sector, namely oil, gas, agriculture or tourism. The dominance of one economic sector has made Arab economies vulnerable to global economic cycles as well as economic and financial shocks.
Consequently, government revenues declined and budget deficits increased, forcing some Arab countries to borrow continuously and excessively, hence leading to an increase in public debt and a decline in their ability to repay. Indicators of indebtedness show that some Arab countries have occupied the top ranks on the list of the most indebted countries in the world. This, in turn, adversely affects their credit rating and their future borrowing prospects.
It is evident that due to burgeoning budget deficits and public debts, in addition to the subsidies provided by some governments on the prices of major consumption goods, the capacity of these countries to spend on developing or even maintaining their infrastructure decreased. The resulting decline in the quality of services and infrastructure coupled with subdued economic growth, made it nearly impossible to attract new private investment.
Moreover, the havoc wreaked in some Arab Countries as a result of eight years of war, conflicts and political turmoil has led to further deterioration in social and economic conditions in the region. The World Government Summit held in Dubai-UAE in February 2017, presented alarming indicators of the reality of Arab economies: 30 million Arabs live below the poverty line, the cost of corruption in the Arab region is around $1 trillion, 5 Arab countries are listed in the ten most corrupt countries in the world list, 75% of the world refugees are Arabs, the value of infrastructure which was destroyed by war has exceeded $400 billion, and the losses in Arab GDP has exceeded $300 billion since 2011.
In addition, the decline in economic growth in Arab countries and the decrease in the quality of public services have been accompanied by a significant decline in the governance indicators. Corruption and bribery are rampant, and very low levels of law enforcement, quality of legislation and confidence in the public sector have been recorded, all of which have led to a further decline in economic activity and entrepreneurship thus aggravating unemployment, poverty and illiteracy in our region. As a result, the Arab region has recorded the lowest human development rates in the world, despite the fact that it is characterized by its possession of huge wealth and natural resources.
Based on this reality, the Union of Arab Banks will hold its Arab Banking Conference in April 2019 entitled 'Economic Reforms and Governance', which includes an analysis of the economic and financial policies adopted over the past decades and an assessment of their failures and shortcomings, discussing the sources of financing reconstruction and the new investment mechanisms that will reduce the burden on budgets of battered governments. Some of these mechanisms include the partnership between the public and private sectors and the role of the private sector in reconstruction and in the development of infrastructure. The conference will also discuss the mechanisms of public debt management in more sustainable ways to alleviate the debt burden on the economy.
TOPICS OF DISCUSSIONS
Challenges of the Economic Reform in the Arab World
* Key elements responsible for obstructing reform
* The ability of governments and institutions to plan, implement and manage reform programs
* Review of tax and financial policies and the need to adopt economic diversification policies
* Developing governance mechanisms as a foundation for launching reform
Policies for managing Public Debt in the Arab World
* The impact of public debt on the economy
* The importance of sustainable management of public debt
* Reducing the budget deficit and devising plans to manage the public debt
* The contribution of international financial institutions in supporting public debt management
The role of Public – Private Partnership in developing the Arab Economies
* Financing infrastructure
* Enacting the Public-Private Partnership frameworks for funding and implementing projects
* Developing governance mechanisms & enhancing confidence in the public sector
Financing Reconstruction & Sustainable Development
* Importance of Political, Financial and Monetary Stability
* Reviewing the economic models in the Arab countries to facilitate reconstruction programs
* Sources for financing reconstruction (Arab Private, Public and Investment Funds)
* Implications of displacement crisis on Arab economies and reconstruction